This is a continuation of my posts on informal learning in advance of the CSTD Ottawa workshop on 30 January.
You can learn a lot through blogging and reading blogs, but it’s usually not what you were expecting. Many times you can go through a series of posts looking for something specific and then wind up following a completely different thread. Life on the Web is like life off the Web. You don’t get what you expect. As Pooh said, “They’re funny things, Accidents. You never have them till you’re having them.” Learning, especially informal learning, is similar.
I’ve found that the discipline of writing has forced me to read with a more critical eye and to read in more depth so that I can make some sense out the various, and often conflicting, messages. In the process of the discipline of reading and writing online, I get a few insights, but not when I’m expecting them. I have to prepare my mind to receive, though not much gets through compared to how much I read. I think that even less would get through if I didn’t do this regularly.
Blogging, or writing an online journal that anyone can read and comment upon, seems to be the core of my informal learning on the Web. Wikis are good for projects and teams, while social bookmarks become great virtual bookshelves that anyone can browse. Skype (voice over the Internet) keeps me in touch with my extended network and is excellent for asking quick questions (as is any other IM system). I still haven’t mastered social networking software (SNS) , such as Linked-In, but Seb Paquet told me several years ago that bloggers don’t really need SNS. For the time being, blogs are the core of my social and learning Web.
Here’s a technical, but easy to understand, diagram of how blogs work.